THE region is unlikely to get all the Government cash it has requested for “local growth” projects, Lord Heseltine also warned.

A £2bn annual fund - devolving spending from Whitehall to local leaders – is “heavily oversubscribed”, the ministerial adviser revealed.

However, Lord Heseltine said that did not mean proposals would be rejected, but merely “phased” until later years of the programme.

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And, ahead of an announcement early next month, he told The Northern Echo: “I can’t reveal what’s coming – but it will be very exciting.”

The Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is among 39 LEPs across England that have put in bids for a slice of the £12bn available, by 2021.

It is pitching for £66.5m in 2015-16, arguing it can create 5,082 jobs, safeguard a further 2,748 jobs and lever in £311.3m of public and private sector investment.

The North-East LEP, meanwhile, which includes County Durham, has bid for £1.6bn, over the six year programme.

Lord Heseltine described the process as “unprecedented in English history” – because local leaders in politics, business and education had made their own choices.

And he said: “They have prioritised what they think are the economic levers in the form of projects – the ones that are most significant in generating growth

“It’s fair to say they have exceeded our expectations, they are heavily oversubscribed compared to the money that’s available

“But the money that’s available in 2015-16 - £2bn - is merely the first year of a long-term programme.”

LEPs could bid for cash to improve transport, further education, skills and infrastructure, after a blueprint devised by Lord Heseltine.

Labour attacked the sums on offer as too small, vowing to double the devolution pot to £4bn a year.